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Topics - starkllr

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Writers' Cafe / How to Keep Momentum From a Promotion?
« on: June 08, 2014, 12:05:15 pm »
OK, so I had an ENT promotion on one of my books on Friday.  It pushed the book to #3,000 overall on the Kindle store and into the top 20 in its categories.  I got 10 sales yesterday, and 1 so far today.  The book is now down to #14,000 overall and in the 40's-50's range in its categories.

What can I do RIGHT NOW to try and keep it selling, while it's still in the top 100 and there's a chance people will see it in the category bestseller charts?

I'm not talking long-term strategy, I'm hoping for some ideas I can implement tonight or tomorrow to take advantage of the boost from ENT before it disappears completely (long-term, I know there are lots of things I can do to better schedule promotions, but this ENT just happened to come up - I've been trying to get in there for the last few months and I was informed about a week ahead that they were running me on Friday, so there wasn't too much I could do to plan).

Writers' Cafe / Blurb Help?
« on: June 05, 2014, 05:58:49 am »
The consensus is that my blurbs are not working for me as well as they should.  I just had mine rewritten by a better-selling author who generally knows what she's talking about. 

Here's the book:

This is the new, re-written blurb:
"This is movie worthy or at least a series on The CW.
A Guilty Pleasure all the way."

-Perry Martin Book Reviews
What would you do if you could see other people's dreams?
What if you could watch their hidden fantasies? Uncover their deepest, darkest
secrets...without them ever knowing?

Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was
final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman
in the next dorm who's got a crush on her. But when she starts seeing dreams that
aren't hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her
classmates...and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get her killed.
Are you ready for a paranormal roller-coaster ride of a page turner? You
won't want to miss Book One of the Dream Series.

This was the blurb I wrote and was using until last week:
What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams?  If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?

Sara Barnes is about to find out.  She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.
But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.

“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.

Do either of these work?  Or, maybe, work with some modification (take out the review quote from the new blurb, or the "thrilling first installment" language from the old one, etc)?  Or should I start from scratch and come up with something totally new?

Writers' Cafe / Can I Do Anything to Rescue My Poor Book Launch?
« on: June 04, 2014, 08:59:05 am »
So I launched my newest book (#7 in the series) almost two weeks ago, on May 23rd. 

So far I have a grand total of 7 sales (and that's not even true, because one was to my Mom, and two were gifts I sent out).  Since I'm still so close to the launch data, and I know Amazon considers a book to be new for the first 30 days (at leas,t i think so), is there anything I can do to boost it, maybe get it into Hot New Releases or otherwise turn a disaster into less of one?

I've got the first three books in the series on sale for $0.99 at the moment, and I have an ENT for one of the going tomorrow.  I cannot get into BookBub to save my life, and I've been doing a bunch of other promotions (Fiverr, among others).

I hit my mailing list two weeks before the launch and again the morning of, so I don't want to do that again so soon.  Anything else (ideally not expensive) I can do to make the first 30 days at least halfway successful, sales-wise?

Writers' Cafe / Reader Surveys?
« on: June 01, 2014, 03:33:21 pm »
Has anyone ever done a survey of their readers?  I mean an actual questionnaire, to see what they like or don't like, what got them to buy your books, which book in your series they liked best, etc?

I'm thinking of doing one, to try and get a better sense of what works (or doesn't) with my marketing, my blurbs, etc. and to try and figure out what I can do to increase the chances of people buying subsequent books in my series.

But i don't want to annoy readers, so I'm not sure (1) whether it's a good idea at all, (2) how to approach it (send the request out to my entire mailing list?  Just do it on my website/FB page?) and (3) how to actually conduct the survey?  I looked at Survey Monkey, but to really do what I'd like there, I need to sign up for their pro plan, and that seems excessive for what will likely be a one-shot deal.  Are there other, similar sites that are cheaper or free?


Writers' Cafe / Temporarily Free without KDP Select?
« on: June 01, 2014, 10:11:23 am »
I know that you can get Amazon to make a book perma-free if it's free elsewhere.  And obviously if you're on KDP Select, you get your free days.

But is it possible/practical to get Amazon to price match down to free just for a few days, and then raise the price back?  Will they do that?  And how long will it take for them to do it?  Any advice would be really appreciated. 

Writers' Cafe / Goodreads Giveaway - What to do next?
« on: May 29, 2014, 01:48:08 pm »
So I've been running a Goodreads giveaway this week (three separate giveaways, actually).  I did one for each of the first three books of my Dream Series.  They've been running from Sunday and they end at midnight tonight.  I offered just one autographed copy of each book.

So far I have:
1,175 requests for book 1
881 for book 2
815 for book 3

(to compare, I did a giveaway a year ago for book 1, with its old cover, and I ran the giveaway for 30 days and got only 741 requests).

My question is, what, if anything, I can do (besides send the copies out to the winners) when it's over.  With the last giveaway, I did something which I was told after the fact was a big no-no (I didn't read all the fine print beforehand, or I would have known) and PM'd each of the non-winners (all 740 of them!) and offered them a free ebook copy of the book if they wanted, with a soft request for a review if they liked it, and I got about 200 takers.  I got probably 10-15 reviews out of that.

Now that I know that's against the rules, I won't do it again, but is there anything else I can do with all those people (and their goodreads accounts) who wanted to win a copy?  It seems like such a wasted opportunity if there's not...

Writers' Cafe / KDP Sales Dashboard Question
« on: May 22, 2014, 03:40:40 pm »
I'm sure this has been answered elsewhere, so I apologize in advance. do I reconcile the fact that there are three different sales numbers now, and they don't match up at all?  For example, today:

The Sales Dashboard graph shows 7 units sold today.
The downloadable Royalties Report shows 5 units sold today
Counting by the Month-to-Date Sales, I have 4 sales today

So which one is correct?  Do I have 4, 5, 7 or some entirely other number of sales today?

I don't know what to do.

I'm releasing book #7 in my series tomorrow.  All the books are well-reviewed, and people who've read them seem to legitimately like them.  But, contrary to what I often read on here, the subsequent books aren't moving at all.

I've got book #1 at $0.99, and I've been doing regular promos for it (not Bookbub; I can't get in there despite repeated attempts for the last three months).  And here are my sales numbers (this goes back to last March when I launched the first four books)

Book 1 (launched March 2013) - 963 sales
Book 2 (launched March 2013) - 310 sales
Book 3 (launched March 2013) - 326 sales
Book 4 (launched March 2013) - 242 sales
Book 5 (launched August 2013) - 56 sales
Book 6 (launched December 2013) - 42 sales

Of the sales for books 2-4, most of them (200 for book 2, 250 for book 3, 170 for book 4) came during an ENT promotion - they ran the books one after the other, three days in a row, at $0.99.  So outside of one week, I've had minimal sales for any of the subsequent books.  Outside of the ENT promotion, the subsequent books have been $2.99, and I just last month tried an experiment of raising them to $3.99.

I'm at a loss.  If I spend the money on promotions, I can get people to buy the first book, but they're not progressing on.  I can't figure out what the problem is - the covers are good, (I think) the blurbs are good, the books themselves are good.  What do I have to do to get people to buy them?

Writers' Cafe / KBoards Promo Results?
« on: May 21, 2014, 03:37:09 am »
Just curious what experiences other folks have had with KBoards promos?

I did the Book Discovery Day promo yesterday, and while I didn't expect to set the world on fire for $15, I WAS hoping for more than I got, which was absolutely nothing.  0 sales.

I'm not sure if it wasn't the right promo to go with, or bad timing, or what...

“Oh, my God, I’m not even starting the job for four months! How can I have an enemy already?”

Sara thought she had found the perfect job, the perfect new house and the perfect place to build a bright future for herself and her family. But her new life is not quite perfect. Her husband and her children are fitting right in, but before Sara even shows up for her first day of work, her coworkers are dreaming about getting rid of her. If that wasn’t bad enough, the one friend she’s made is dreaming nightly about a disaster that could wipe out the entire town…and Sara is beginning to think he might be right…

Dream Home is the exciting seventh book in the Dream Series.

It's out on Friday on Kindle, but it's available as a paperback RIGHT NOW!

Writers' Cafe / Launch advice?
« on: May 16, 2014, 06:15:12 am »
I've got the launch of book #7 in my series coming up next Friday.  I've got early reviews lined up, the mailing list is ready to go, twitter and FB activity and blog blitzes arranged.

What else can I set up in the next seven days to help make it a success?  And, also, what can I do (or should I do) to promote the other books in the series?  Book #1 is $0.99 (I haven't made the leap to perma-free yet - I still don't know what I think about that), the rest are all $3.99.  I've also got a collection of the first five books for $8.99, and the first four novels (and a short story) are available on audiobook. 

I've got 60+ reviews for book #1 (average of 4.2 stars out of 5 on Amazon), 21 for #1, 19 for #3, 11 each for #4 and #5, and only 6 reviews for #6.  Sales for #5 and #6 are also lagging way behind the rest of the books.  I've sold 900 or so copies of #1, 350 each or so of #2, 3 and 4, and 50 each of #5 and #6.

Any thoughts to make this launch work better and, maybe, improve sales of the earlier books, too?  Thanks in advance!

The title pretty much says it all.

I've got paperback editions of all my books published through CreateSpace.  I would like to have a color image on the inside back cover of each book. 

Is this possible?  If so, will it make the book too expensive?  If not, can anyone tell me how I actually do it (or point me towards guidance on how to do it)?


Writers' Cafe / $2.99 vs. $3.99?
« on: May 01, 2014, 02:30:43 pm »
I'm curious to hear opinions on this topic.

My books (six so far, #7 on the way later this month) are all $2.99 at the moment (except for book #1, which is permanently "on sale" for $0.99).  They're paranormal suspense, all 85,000 to 100,000 words, professional covers (see signature below), great reviews and a good number of them.

I've been wondering if I should go to $3.99 on them. I wonder if that will make them seem more "professional" at a slightly higher price point?  Anybody have any thoughts one way or the other?

"I wish someone - my mother, my husband, anybody - would really let me have it, instead of telling me everything's not my fault when it obviously is..."

Sara's seen the cost of interfering in other people's dreams firsthand; it's measured in ruined lives and cemetery plots.

When her supernatural dreams start up again, Sara is faced with problem after problem. And the only solution she can see is the one she's sworn never to attempt - changing the minds of the dreamers from the inside-out.

Sara thought that fighting against serial killers, mobsters and crooked politicians was difficult, but she's about to come up against the most difficult foe she's ever faced: her own conscience.

Dream Reunion is the emotional sixth book in the Dream Series.

Writers' Cafe / Can I Get Into Trouble For This? (song lyrics again)
« on: April 20, 2014, 04:16:19 pm »
I posted about thus before, but I've got the actual passage written now.  So, am I safe with this, or could the rights-holder come after me?

Joshua leads her up the giant marble staircase – the same one that she remembers seeing in almost every one of these movies, and at the top, when the music slows, Joshua whispers in her ear, “Sing for me, Margie.  Sing for me like you used to.”

Sara doesn't know the words, but, she hopes, it won't matter.  The effort, she thinks, might be enough.  The refrain is simple enough, and for the rest of it, she tries to follow the melody and rhyme as best she can.   
The song ends a moment later, and there, still atop the staircase, Sara leans close to Joshua, just as, she knows, Margie did all those years ago.  Her lips are only an inch from his, when he pulls away from her.  He's still holding her, and staring hard.

“I don't understand it, but I know it's you, Doctor.”

Sara is surprised now, but only for an instant.  It's happened before, after all.  Janet Black's mother recognized her in a dream, and so did Paul Sorrentino, at the end of his life.  Why shouldn't Joshua recognize her, too?

“How did you know?”

“Margie would never forget the lyrics to that song.  ‘You can hide, and I will seek, until we're singing and we're dancing cheek to cheek?'  Really?”   

Sara shrugs.  “I did the best I could.  I got everything else right, didn't I?”

I've bolder the part  in question.  Obviously, those are NOT the actual lyrics to "Cheek to Cheek" ...

Writers' Cafe / Craft Topic: Art Imitating Life?
« on: April 16, 2014, 10:58:39 am »
Since Cat Amesbury shouldn't have to come up with all the fluffy bunny topics, here's another one...

How much do your real-life details bleed into your writing?  I'm not talking about the big topics, or autobiographical elements in fiction.  I mean the little things that maybe you don't even realize at first glance have come from your own life.

A small example: in my WIP, one running subplot is that my heroine and her husband have not been able to connect in the bedroom for several chapters.  It's a different minor annoyance or interruption every time.  The final one is the family dog throwing up right outside their bedroom door just as they're getting warmed up in bed.

It wasn't until a week after I wrote it that I realized where that idea came from: our cat has been throwing up every other night for the last couple of weeks, usually at 2 or 3 in the morning - and without intentionally doing it, I incorporated that unpleasant aspect of my recent life into my fiction.

Writers' Cafe / Bookstore Without Borders Lyra Novel Contest?
« on: April 15, 2014, 05:53:06 am »
Does anyone know anything about Bookstore Without Borders, or the 2013 Lyra Best Novel Contest?

They were supposedly going to announce the winner on April 1st, but there's still nothing on their website about it.  I'm wondering how above-board they actually are...

Writers' Cafe / Pop Culture References
« on: April 10, 2014, 01:44:56 pm »
I may as well start up a fluffy-bunny thread of my own...

How do you (or, DO you) handle pop-culture references in your stories?

In my books, there are two different kinds of references.  First are references BY the characters to movies, TV, real-world news events, etc.  I like to use them, when they seem appropriate, both to ground the story in its time (my series begins in 1989, and each book jumps ahead; I'm up to 2003 now), and to ground the characters in the world.  For example: in the last book (set in the winter of 2001), my heroine has an 12-year-old daughter, and the girl has a poster of Orlando Bloom as Legolas pinned to her bedroom wall. 

The second kind of reference is the one that's a wink to the reader.  I usually don't explain these at all, and I try to write them so that a reader who doesn't pick up on it won't notice anything amiss.  For example, one of the heroine's neighbors is talking about her dog, and mentions that she got the dog at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm.

Writers' Cafe / End matter question
« on: April 07, 2014, 08:41:16 am »
I include links and info at the end of each of my books (although not an actual chapter of the next book in the series).  I'm looking for opinions on whether this is good enough, or if I should be saying more (or saying it differently, etc)?

Sara’s adventures continue in book 2 of this series, “Dream Doctor” (in the Kindle version, this is a direct link to the product page for Dream Doctor)

Look for it at: (direct link to my author page)
or (direct link to my website)

If you enjoyed “Dream Student”, please click here and leave a review at  Thank you! (direct link on "Click here" to the reviews page for this book)

If you really enjoyed it, you’ll love the audiobook edition of “Dream Student” narrated by the amazing Heather Jane Hogan.  Please click here to listen to a ten minute sample! (direct link to the product page of the audiobook on "audiobook edition" and direct link to the sample on my website on "click here")

If it makes any difference, the book ends with an epilogue that sets up one of the major plots of the second book.  What's written above comes directly after that chapter and "The End"

Writers' Cafe / Opinions on Bookstore Without Borders
« on: March 30, 2014, 01:25:15 pm »
Does anyone have any thoughts on Bookstore Without Borders?

Is it worth the $10 (per book?  that's not totally clear to me) to sell my books there?  I realize that's not a lot of money for another potential sales channel, but on the other hand, if the channel isn't useful, it's money wasted, and those "only $10" charges can add up pretty quickly (having recently done my taxes, I now know just how quickly!).

Writers' Cafe / Song Lyrics Question
« on: March 26, 2014, 04:49:51 pm »
I know the copyright issues involved in using song lyrics in a book (find the rights holder of the song & pay them, or don't do it).

But what about just quoting the song title (if it's also part of the refrain).  In the scene I'm working on, my heroine is dancing, and "Cheek to Cheek" is playing.  Can I have her think, or sing along, "la la la la la la, Cheek to Cheek..."

Or, can I have her mess up the lyrics?  "I'm so happy every week, when I'm dancing with you cheek to cheek..." Etc.  is that still too close to risk it, or am I safe with something like that?

What if you could see everyone else's dreams?

With A Box of Dreams, follow Sara Barnes, a young woman who learns she can do exactly that.  Her gift (or curse) will lead her to help hunt down a serial killer, solve a murder mystery, unravel a plot involving a mobster and a corrupt congressman, and more...

This collection includes all five current DREAM SERIES novels, plus extra bonus content written especially for A Box Of Dreams...

The fifth book in the Dream Series is "Waking Dream."  And this time, Sara encounters something she never imagined she'd have: a nemesis.

There's someone else out there, not a member of her family, who can step into dreams just as Sara does.  But this mysterious fellow dreamer does not share Sara's morals, or her desire to help the people whose dreams she visits.  Instead, the "woman in red" is using her talent for her own selfish ends, and she doesn't care how many people are hurt, or worse, in the process...

The fourth book in the Dream Series follows Sara as she begins life in her new job, partner in her own medical practice.  But on her very first day, her life is turned upside-down when she's (falsely) arrested for prescription drug fraud.  The consequences of her brief time in jail will haunt Sara, unless she can figure out how to overcome them.  And her supernatural dreams may be the only thing that can help her do that...

My third novel, "Dream Child", continues the Dream Series.  Sara's finished medical school and she's in the midst of her residency...and also mother to a very precosious four-year-old girl.  Who's inherited her ability to step into other people's dreams...

There's also a ten minute sample of the forthcoming audiobook, at:

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